Study proposes traffic reducing solutions for Buckhead

A new study says that employer-assisted housing, additional housing supply could increase workers living in Buckhead which will cut down on traffice. AJC file photo
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A new study says that employer-assisted housing, additional housing supply could increase workers living in Buckhead which will cut down on traffice. AJC file photo

A recently completed study on Buckhead housing shows that increasing the number of workers who also live in the community could have a positive impact on local traffic, according to a press release. While only 8% of the workforce – roughly 6,100 people — currently live in Buckhead, the study proposes an action plan to almost triple that number and eliminate up to 300,000 miles of commute travel each day.

The action plan includes a combination of short-, mid- and long-term approaches that will connect workers to existing housing, preserve housing affordability and eventually lead to construction of new workforce housing. One of the first action steps is a concerted effort to educate local employers about preferred renter programs that can lower employees’ housing costs.

The Livable Buckhead study was funded through a Livable Centers Initiative grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission. The grant was for $96,000, and covered 80% of the study cost. Livable Buckhead provided the other 20%.

“Our top priority is to increase the connections between employers and local housing options for their employees,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, which led the study in partnership with the Buckhead Community Improvement District. “That can help our traffic problem right out of the gate. ”

The Buckhead Housing and Commute Study included a market analysis to determine how many Buckhead workers would consider living in the community and how much housing is needed to accommodate them. The analysis identified demand for approximately 12,000 new units, split evenly between market rate options that appeal to high income households and units that are affordable for households making $50,000 or less annually. Proposed programs to meet that goal include attracting non-profit investment in workforce housing, promoting co-living and micro-units, and developing housing incentive programs.

Across the region, multiple groups are looking for ways to address metro Atlanta’s need for more workforce housing. The Buckhead study and its recommended approaches work in concert with those efforts but remain focused on a community-based solution aimed at improving traffic conditions.

The Buckhead Housing and Commuting Study was conducted by HR&A Advisors, Inc. and guided by a steering committee of approximately 30 stakeholders including representatives of Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing Authority, the Atlanta district council of the Urban Land Institute, the City of Atlanta Office of Housing and Community Development, as well as local real estate developers and property managers. Implementation of the action plan will fall to many members of this group.